Examining and decolonising networks underlying policy construction

Stream: Indigenous policy
Date: Monday, 9 September 2019
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.10 pm


Decolonising methodologies (Smith, 2012) are increasingly being adopted by researchers. This paper argues that these approaches have much to offer policy-makers. Decolonising methodologies recognise that knowledge construction has been, and often continues to be, part of a colonial project that has oppressed Indigenous peoples. Research has generated representations of, and stories about, Indigenous peoples that claim objectivity but are instead embedded in white, western ways of knowing and categorising the world – and serve colonial power structures. Decolonising approaches’ concern with how knowledge is constructed, what is considered valid evidence, who constructs knowledge, and who knowledge is constructed about, have clear relevance to policy. Like research, policy also constructs representations of and stories about Indigenous peoples; particularly the ‘needs’ and ‘problems’ of Indigenous peoples. Further, with a growing emphasis on evidence-based policy, policy makers increasingly draw on research and other knowledge about Indigenous peoples to construct policy. The second part of this paper focuses in on the ways that policy-makers use knowledge and evidence to construct social policy. It reports on a bibliographic network analysis (currently underway) of Australian policies directed at the wellbeing of Indigenous youth. The analysis visualises and quantifies the interconnections underlying these policies; identifying the people, concepts, and theories, that have been most influential in constructing policy, and the nature of their connections with each other. The paper will then consider these networks through the lens of decolonising approaches; exploring what knowledge and evidence is valued versus excluded and who’s given voice versus silenced within policy.


Jodie Kidd (Presenter), Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Jodie is currently undertaking a PhD at the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW. Her project explores Indigenous young people's perspectives on healing from colonial injustice/trauma and how young people’s perspectives relate to and can inform the way that policy-makers understand Indigenous young people and healing.

Prior to commencing her PhD, Jodie spent over 10 years working in youth and family services. This included front-line service delivery, management, and policy roles in non-government organisations and with NSW Juvenile Justice.